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Living with Art

Living with Art
By Cristina Morozzi -

When in the fifties, people asked philosopher Martin Heidegger what he thought about the housing crisis, a crucial problem in those post-war days, he replied with a famous article “Building, Living, Thinking” in which he reminded us that men “build because to some extent they are already living in that space”. Having a home for Heidegger was essentially “to take care of one’s own space”: there is no before or after, only “being in relation to, having relationships”. In other words, it is “living among things from the beginning. It is a way of living that only tradition can still teach us”. For Heidegger, the real housing crisis was not a hermeneutical question of the shortage of houses but the fact that “mortals must first and foremost learn to live in them”. If we are “to rediscover the essence of having a home, or inhabiting a home in the true sense of the word “heimat”, we should reflect” says Heidegger, “ on man’s rootlessness”. The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who in 1926 designed his sister a house still to be seen in Vienna, took Heidegger’s reasoning even further: “when we build houses, we talk and write”, he said. Living in a home was more than “living among things”; it is narration. And this, as with all true and meaningful stories, signifies going to the root of our being, reconstructing our origins and genealogies.
This philosophical premise is extremely fitting today. Not by chance, many artists make the home the focus of their work. This was particularly evident at the singular exhibition held last spring (2005) in the Kunsthalle of Bregenz showing installations on the theme of the human habitat by Rachel Whiteread, Gregor Schneider, Tobias Rehberger, Andrea Zittel, Lucy Orta, Vanessa Beecroft, Atelier Von Lieshout and Karen Kilimnik.So an article on art in an architectural journal is not out of place. Indeed the recent installations of three women artists have shown how central the question is. Very different artists with very...

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